With both major watch fairs now cancelled, we are not getting the huge drop of watch novelties that usually comes around this time of the year. Thankfully, Watches & Wonders Geneva has decided to still go ahead with the fair but in a virtual space. Of course, nothing quite beats getting to see the watches in the metal but, desperate times call for desperate measures. To see all the new novelties launched online during this time, you can head on over to the Watches & Wonders website. But me, I have decided to take a look at some of the most outrageous watches (if we can still even call them watches) to come out of Watches & Wonders 2020. Some are ornate, others are mesmerizing, but they are all undoubtedly mechanical art and just a joy to behold; just don’t ask about the price.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Grande Tradition Grande Complication
If you’re wondering what earned this piece its ‘Grande Complication’ title, it’s the fact that it manages to combine an orbital flying tourbillon, minute repeater and a celestial vault into one movement. There are just so many things here that make this watch incredible. The design of the dial mimics the imaginary lines astrologers draw between the stars and all the constellations you see on the dial displays, in real-time the position of the stars in the sky. The tourbillon may rotate on its axis in 60 seconds but it will make a circuit around the dial in one sidereal day which is based on Earth’s rotation measured relative to the ‘fixed’ stars, which takes precisely 23 hours 56 min and 4.1 seconds. And all this is done using a bunch of tiny mechanical cogs. Fantastic stuff.
Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept
Can you imagine a mechanical watch as thin as two credit cards stacked together? Well, you’ll probably need them both to purchase this new novelty from Piaget. This 2mm ultra-thin watch started as a concept watch to prove that Piaget indeed had the micro-engineering knowhow to create a piece like this and now, they have managed to commercialise the watch, making it available to the public. For a watch that is only 2mm thick, the caseback can only be 0.12mm and so in order not to have it bend on the user’s wrist, they had to use a cobalt-based alloy that is 2.3 times stronger than gold and much harder to machine.
Purnell Escape IIS Treasure
What’s better than seeing a triple-axis tourbillon in a watch? Well, two triple-axis tourbillons of course. For the first time, Purnell is taking its ground-breaking double-Spherion movement and adding tiny gemstones to the cages of these tourbillons. What makes this piece so incredible is the fact that these cages are usually extremely delicate as they want to use as little energy as possible to allow the mechanism to rotate on a triple-axis. So, to be able to set gems on this already tiny machine is mind-boggling. And to make it all even more impressive, they have also managed to shrink down the size of the case from 48mm to a ‘ladies’ size of 44mm.
Even without reading this block of text, you can already see how outrageous this piece is from the pictures. But let me blow your mind even further. What you see here is a watch encased in sapphire crystal, with a beating heart made from a synthetic diamond material. It’s just crazy. This high-tech diamond material is used in the aerospace industry and is prized for its unbreakable property. The components used in this watch, however, were made by Japanese company Adamant Namiki Precision who have the expertise to make a flat atomic diamond. It is done through a chemical vapour deposition process, that can only produce one millimetre of this synthetic diamond in 40 days. So, for the components needed in this watch, it took 280 days to obtain the 7 millimetres required for the tourbillon component.